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Coney Island Photo Tent

Photo Tent on Coney Island Beach, 1890s. Library of Congress

Ever since the 19th century, beachside and sidewalk photo studios have offered tourists a chance to memorialize their visit to Coney Island’s fabled shore. Now sideshow performer and tech genius Fred Kahl is turning the time-honored souvenir photo into a 21st century art form with his 3-D scanning portrait studio. After launching a Kickstarter project to raise $15,000 to fund the venture, Kahl opened the tiny studio in a former fortune teller’s booth at 1208 Surf Avenue next to the Coney Island Sideshow. The Coney Island Scan-A-Rama is open Saturdays from 12 noon till 7:00 PM.

Coney Island Scan-A-Rama

Coney Island Scan-A-Rama, 3-D Portraits by Fred Kahl

“The vision is to create the world’s first affordable 3D printing portrait studio,” Kahl writes on his Kickstarter page. “As a backer, you will get your very own personal 3D action figure or family portrait!” Getting scanned takes only a minute, though one is required to stand very still on a slowly revolving platform as shown in this video. With Kahl’s custom hardware and workflow, printing the 3-D figurine can take 4-7 hours, depending on volume and complexity. Figurines of 2-3 people take longer, he says. Duplicates of the 3-D portraits will be featured in a populated scale model of 1914 Luna Park to be exhibited at Coney Island USA in 2014. Some of the 3-D towers and minarets can be glimpsed in the background of the photo below.

#-d Portriats by Fred Kahl Coney Island Scan-A-Rama, 3-D Portraits by Fred Kahl

“Coney Island has always been the place where cutting edge technology is presented as entertainment. Inventions like the elevator, electric light bulb, hot dog and the rollercoaster found their first audiences here,” says Kahl. “I wanted to update the art of amusement park portraiture for the 21st century. In the past you would have had a caricature drawn, silhouette cut or a photo taken. Well, that technology has barely changed in 100 years… Until now!”

Here’s a time lapse video showing the printing process of the 3D portrait of burlesque performer Kat Mon Dieu at the Coney Island Scan-A-Rama…

The Kickstarter campaign has raised nearly one-third of the $15,000 goal with contributions ranging from $5 to $220, but Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing funding model. The full amount must be pledged by August 8 for the project to be funded. A pledge of $50 will get you a 3-D figurine of one of a dozen Coney Island celebrities. For $60, you’ll receive a 3-D custom portrait of yourself. A group of 2-3 people can get a 3-D portrait for a pledge of $100 or more. “I am also planning to add a new reward this week,” says Kahl. “A model of the Luna Park tower!”

Visit http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/fredini/coney-island-scan-a-rama for more info and updates.

Update: Fred Kahl’s Scan-O-Rama 3D portrait studio will be open most Saturdays from 12-5pm through December 21, 2013 at Coney Island USA, 1208 Surf Avenue.

3-D Portraits by Fred Kahl

Coney Island Scan-A-Rama, 3-D Portraits by Fred Kahl

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